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CH.LIH  DISRUPTION OF SELJUK EMPIRE     119
remarked to the envoy of Arslan Shah that he had heard
there was a district in Kerman where the narcissus
bloomed. " True, O Sultan/' was the reply, " but there
are sharp thorns also." It is not recorded that Sanjar made
any attack on the province, and the chronicler evidently
believes the Great Seljuk took this remark as a warning
that he would be opposed if he attempted an invasion. On
the other hand he was accepted as suzerain by the Kerman
branch of the dynasty.
An Episode of the Assassins.In the previous chapter I
have given some account of the rise of the baleful power
of the assassins, and its continuance, in spite of the long
list of their victims, is a proof of the unsatisfactory
condition of the Seljuk Empire. Barkiyaruk, during
whose reign they consolidated their position, was himself
accused of being in sympathy with their, tenets and,
perhaps as a proof of his orthodoxy, ordered a massacre
of the sect, one of many which were instituted by way of
reprisal. As already mentioned, Iran Shah, the Seljuk
prince of Kerman, was also suspected of adherence to the
Ismaili doctrines. It is difficult to conceive a more dia-
bolical state of affairs than one which caused all men of
position and especially monarchs to go constantly in fear
for their lives, and sowed the deepest mistrust between all
classes. Nor did capture end the assassin's power for evil,
as for instance after the assassination of the Fakhr-ul-Mulk,
son of the Nizam-ul-Mulk ; for the devotee, being inter-
rogated by Sultan Sanjar, denounced several prominent
officers of the Court, who, although probably innocent,
were in consequence executed.
A terrible instance of their almost incredible methods
was that of ibn Attash,1 who won thousands of converts
at Isfahan. Numbers of people were at that time dis-
appearing in a most inexplicable manner and a panic
prevailed. The mystery was solved through the instru-
mentality of a beggar-woman who, hearing groans pro-
ceeding from a house, suspected foul play and refused to
enter when pressed to do so. She raised an alarm, and
the crowd, breaking into the building, found four or five
* Browne's Literary History, vol. ii. p. 3-14,